Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Toad on the Back Step

My husband opened the back door and found a toad on the back step. It was obviously a female, judging from her size. Female toads are much larger than males. When he opened the door, the dogs hopped right over her and went about their business in the yard. My husband called me over to show me the toad and she was trying to hop inside of the house. I suspect she may be the toe toad from our old house, the toad that spent her days sitting in the toe of my garden shoe.

I was worried that this might happen. She wasn't in the garden shoe when we moved, and odds were great that she was inside of one of my potted plants, but there was no way to tell. I couldn't dump out each plant and sift through the dirt trying to find her. We didn't have time.

As I worked on repotting a few plants yesterday I dumped a large pot with a plant that had died. I sifted the dirt gently with a hand shovel trying to loosen the dead plant roots without harming any creatures that might have made their home inside the pot. I only sifted through half the pot since that was all I needed to do to loosen the roots. I think it's possible the toad was in the dirt inside this pot.

I filled a bowl with water and set it by the back door, but the toad hopped through the yard, beneath the fence, and headed for the creek, which is on the south side of our neighbor's house. Toads need water, just like frogs. Perhaps not as much, but they still need water.

I suspect this might have been Mrs. Toady, the toad who lived inside my garden shoes, because she was completely unfazed by the dogs. Mrs. Toady would hop around the dogs as they walked across the patio and they never even stopped to sniff. I'm not sure how they came to this agreement, but it's always been that way. The first time I saw Mrs. Toady she dug her way out of a garden in the back yard of our old house and hopped up to my chocolate lab, Buddy, then hopped between my shoes. I knew then that we would have a long and happy relationship.

If it is Mrs. Toady, I hope she finds her way to water and a safe home. I preferred having her on our patio because of the constant flooding in this area. It seems much safer for her than living down by the creek. I will leave a bowl of water by my back door, just in case. At the old house, when she climbed out of the shoe at night, she would hop into the bowl of water to cool off.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A New Adventure

We are in the new house in Marble Falls, Texas. It is cozy and we have neighbors, but there is a dense forest across the street. There are also peacocks nearby. I can hear them calling in the early evening. I will introduce myself to my neighbors soon and ask if I can photograph their pets. It's been many years since I've seen a peacock.

There is a lizard who lives in the backyard. He is big and friendly, the type that resembles an alligator. He likes to sit on the side of the tree near the back door and bask in the sunlight.

There is also a family of squirrels living nearby. A mother and four babies. There is a large, dead tree in the middle of the backyard and the squirrel family sits at the top of the tree in the morning and early evening. The babies like to chew on the bark and the mother sometimes reaches her paw around their backs to keep them from tumbling from the branches. They are very affectionate. Sometimes, the babies will scramble up to their mother to touch noses as if they are giving her a kiss. I have corn cobs and little cups of sunflower seeds on two of the trees, but they only pick at the food. The squirrels at my last house would sit at the sunflower seeds and eat until every last seed was gone!

I've also hung two hummingbird feeders and we have nonstop action with the birds. I've photographed hummingbirds with violet-colored throats, gold backs, green backs, white throats, and so many more. There is a tiny, gray hummingbird that likes to chatter before she lands on the feeder to eat as if she's warning me that she's coming in for a landing! I just added another feeder, but the birds don't seem to like it as much. They prefer to wait in line on the tree branches and take turns at the feeder by the back door.

There is a large, beautiful cardinal that sits on my bedroom windowsill in the mornings. In cardinal flocks, the largest and brightest male is the leader. He usually eats first, and has the best choice of food, which explains his bright coat and large size. This particular male, though, has a large mate, as well. She is the biggest, brightest female cardinal I have ever seen. He prefers to sit on my windowsill, but he watches me through the window and the second I reach for my camera, he disappears. She has hopped onto the backyard table or the backs of the chairs when I was standing only a few feet away, but she also disappears as soon as my hand starts to focus the camera. They are sensitive to the slightest movements. I plan to hide behind the back fence for awhile one of these mornings and photograph the couple when they're not looking.

There are so many amazing little creatures stopping by to visit. I never would have imagined that I would be so blessed to see such great beauty.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Houses, Squirrels, Birds, Raccoons, Hummers

I am at the old house, cleaning. I was waiting for a sign, something that would let me know that everyone would be okay. As I checked my email on my computer, the little bird who built her nest in the grapevines near my truck flew in the back door, which was only open a crack, landed on the rock bar, turned and looked at me, then flew back out the open sliding glass doors. I think she was saying goodbye.

I left the sunflower seeds, bird seed and corn here so I could continue feeding the little creatures while I finished moving and cleaning and someone broke into the container and ate all the sunflower seeds last night! Yes, I am certain it was the twin baby raccoons! They do like their seeds. They were also nibbling on the corn. They ate all of the seeds on the tables, as well, but the corn cob hangers are almost empty of their corn, so I know the squirrel who just had babies has been nibbling this morning.

Last night, as I drove away from the house, I found myself facing a most spectacular sunset! The colors were stunning in their variety and intensity. I stepped out to take a few pictures, then someone pulled in behind me so I had to drive away, but I noticed numerous cars and trucks stopped along the highway with their drivers standing by the door, taking pictures of the sunset. Apparently, I'm not the only one who is in awe of God's nightly masterpiece!

When I arrived here this morning, I started to say something to my husband, then noticed a little creature buzzing around my head. Apparently, I was blocking the hummingbird feeder! I took a step back and a bright green hummingbird sat down at the feeder and drank her fill, then flew off, with two others chasing her! Hummingbirds eat every ten minutes, and we have so many here right now. I bought a new feeder for my new house so I can leave these here until the new owner is ready to set up her feeders.

Last night, as I was closing up, and the air around me turned orange and pink with the setting sun, I heard a rhythmic buzzing sound and realized a hummingbird was doing a mating dance over the grapevines. They fly from side to side, as if swinging on a swing. I tried to film it, then my camera battery died! I quickly replaced the battery, and the little hummer resumed its dance as if it was waiting for me! I love those little birds. Such a precious gift.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Big Round House

This is our last night in the big round house on the hill. I spent the afternoon saying goodbye to the house sparrows, photographing the baby squirrels, and listening to the mockingbird as she followed me from tree to tree.

I took the dogs for a walk and the mockingbird followed us down to the road, chittering and chattering and making every sound one could possibly imagine.

The rose bushes are starting to bloom. They are filled with dark red Abraham Lincoln roses so thick and velvety and rich that I can smell them from the bedroom patio. The pink rose bush is covered with buds and the old fashioneds are starting to bloom, as well.

I cleaned both ponds and checked to make sure no baby lizards had fallen into the water.

I filled the hummingbird feeders and the seed dishes. Hopefully, they will have enough food to hold them over until the new owners settle in.

My husband moved the couches to the new house. He saw three pheasants scurry to the side of the house when he walked up. I don't think I've ever photographed a pheasant. I wonder if they are friendly?

New adventures are waiting.

I can still hear the mockingbird singing, even though the door is closed.